The embrace of anti-truth

Dear President Biden,

The other day I registered my dismay at your American exceptionalism rhetoric and the toxic masculinity that’s laced through such posturing and today I will register my dismay at what’s happening several notches up the toxic masculinity continuum. As you may have guessed, I’ve been reading about the House vote to censure Paul Gosar and thus, necessarily, have been reading (again) about what he did and what he seems to stand for, which is uncensored White supremacy along with hefty measures of misogyny. He truly seems like he’s bat-shit off his rocker. Plus, he’s a scary dude.

But of course, the real concern is not him – it’s the 207 House Republicans who voted against the censure (plus the 5 who were either absent or voted “present” rather than risk taking a stand). Their affirmation of Gosar and of their fearful leader (DJT) is egging on legions of “ordinary” Americans and leading them to fervently, dangerously believe that it’s perfectly reasonable to make (and carry out?) the types of threats that Gosar made against both you and AOC.

Backlash is real. And backlash is scary.

I know this is stating the obvious, but I want to remind us both that the best way to keep the bullies in power and fomenting backlash is to retreat, get small again, get quiet again, give in to them. That’s their aim. They don’t care about winning on merit – the ends justify whatever means they can pull from their seemingly bottomless cesspool of options. They’re about intimidation and domination and they’ve been perfecting their strategies for quite a long time now.

Thus, I found it odd that historian, Heather Cox Richardson, who I introduced you to the other day, said the following in her letter this morning:

“The march toward Republicans’ open acceptance of violence has been underway since January 6, as leaders embraced the Big Lie that the Democrats stole the 2020 election, and then as leaders have stood against mask and vaccine mandates as tyranny….” 

Since January 6? A mere 316 days ago? I don’t think so. She must have been in a hurry because I know she knows about all of the violence that DJT encouraged (and enacted) over the painfully long time he was in office. And I know she knows that most of his GOP minions were either all in or tied themselves into logic pretzels to avoid saying anything remotely negative about the Bully in Chief and his behavior.

To underscore this point, I’m going to share an excerpt from the WP’s Jacob Bogage’s interview with the incoming president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Janai Nelson, who will be taking over from Sherrilyn Ifill next spring.

Bogage asked Nelson about why she invokes the following MLK quote:

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

And Nelson replied:

“We often believe that our problems lie in a misunderstanding, that if only we sat down together, if only people heard and understood the other side of things, then we would all find ourselves in a better place. I think there is some truth to that. But it ignores the fact that there are some actors that are intentionally — intentionally — denying truth, eschewing knowledge and distorting reality. That isn’t for lack of access to information. It’s not for any sort of benevolent or benign purpose, but it is a rather deliberate effort to ignore history, to ignore truth, which enables destructive, anti-democratic actions to take hold.

That is why I find that particular quote to be so appropriate in this moment. Because it’s not just an innocent lack of understanding. It is quite a deliberate embrace of anti-truth and in my mind, there’s nothing more dangerous than that in a society.”

With the GOP’s cynical embrace of Gosar, I find myself having real fear for your safety, AOC’s safety, Jayapal’s safety – the list goes on and on.

Very. Scary. Times.

May we all be safe – even the Gosars of this world.
May we all be willing to reset around real happiness.
May we have the strength to eschew any and all forms of violence.
May we accept the need to stay grounded in what’s real and resist being hoodwinked by anti-truth peddlers.

Tracy Simpson

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